Despite doing the
report entirely pro
bono, Ringer put his
everything into the
project and made it
come alive, thanks to
Rolling with the punches
Sometimes taking on a pro bono project can be a
real bear. Between juggling paying clients and what
is basically free work, pro bono projects often get
the raw end of the deal. That’s not the case with the
Virginia Zoo’s annual report. Ringer Creative in
Virginia Beach, Va., truly made it a labor of love.
“About three-quarters of the way through the
project, the client called and said her budget had
been cut—significantly,” says Jeff Ringer, principal.
“We were too far along to change concepts so I had
to beg, barter, and call in favors from a printer, photographer,
and paper company. This added several
extra days to the process.”
The budget constraints almost proved costly to
the overall production quality of the report. “Because
the budget was slashed, there wasn’t time or money
for me to attend the press run,” says Ringer. “The
pressman running the job noticed that the paper was
soaking up the ink and the job looked very washedout.
He took it upon himself to stop the press and
explore some alternatives with his team. He came up
with a solution of a touch plate of fluorescent yellow
which made the images pop. The solution made all
the difference in the world.”
To cope with the budget cuts, Ringer downsized
the report. “Originally it was going to be 11x14,”
he says. “I then consolidated information and pages.
I couldn’t bind in found objects and envelopes [as
originally planned], so I decided to scan the items
and work with them in Photoshop to add dimension.
I handwrote most of the copy—luckily, I have very
legible handwriting. I did all of the little spot illustrations.
I called the paper company and got the paper
at cost. I called the printer and asked them to reduce
their price. And with the help of my 13-year-old son,
we bound all of the annual reports by hand.”
of meeting notes and
several themes that
found their way into
the final product.
All of the text was
handwritten by Ringer,
except for the financial
data. As in the
he drew all of the
small animals interspersed
Ringer found inspiration
in the published
journal of a young
who was tragically
slain in Africa.
The designer’s earlier
pitch, a journal
concept, was quickly
accepted because he
went the extra mile
to show how it would
work in print.
The journal concept
was particularly challenging
was short and the
designer had to create
and collect materials
on his own.